Thursday, March 24, 2005

Gee that sounded much cooler in the ad...

It's a familiar phrase. NO WIRES NO STRINGS!! (It's thread) NO WIRES NO THREAD!! (It's string) NO WEIRD MOVES!! (There is a weird move but using the word weird keeps them from getting sued) YOU COULD BE NAKED!!! (Thumb tip)

Regardless, the ads are made so the trick sounds better. This is why I will NOT buy something I don't see performed first. This is also one of the ONLY advantages to the internet magic shop. Video demos. Sure you can't say, "What does that do, or that, or this, or...", but thaz better for your health anyway. Getting smacked around in a magic store is just sad. Regardless, it always sounds better in words than it looks in person. (Especially when the only demo of something you can see online is an animated gif. Here is a tip from me to you: If it's not good enuff to film, it's not good enuff to buy.)

I had a similar experience at the Magic Castle last week. Saw two guys do a show together. One was a Julliard trained pianist (Say that fast, it's fun) and a Vegas magician. Here is what their website said:

"A Vegas magician and a Juilliard-trained concert pianist clash in an evening that celebrates great music and grand illusion. Can they escape the heat from the Martha Stewart Kitchen of Death in a Minute Waltz? Comical. Harmonious. Discord.

Now don't get me wrong it's a good idea but it sounds better in theory than in their practice. Not enough piano, too much dead space (And box illusions), and they had to resort to using a rabbit. Thaz just cheap applause kids. We all know it.

I think with some tweaking their act could be really good. At this point the females in the background were more engaging. (Not cuz' of their scantily clad-ness, but they were amusing to watch react to the show.)

So what's my point? I'll tell you. I hate the shadow box illusion. Sure makes NO sense but stick with me on this. In writing it would sound kool, but in watching it kinda gives itself away. Imagine this: An empty box with a light in it. The front door is paper so the light can be seen thru it. Shadows are cast on the paper. How is this possible? The box was empty.. yet there are masks, dragons, hands, etc being projected on the door. How is that.. oh a girl just appeared in the box. Well it must have been her.

Makes sense doesn't it?

Now I am sure many people are fooled by this. (My friend watching wasn't) Regardless, these are the same people fooled by a bevel base on ANY illusion but thinking people know where the shadows came from. I think the best shadow box effect I have seen was Dimmare. He combined Origami with a shadow box and folds a Pomeranian into a plant and then into a girl. That makes sense. (Kinda). Thus going from a lame appearance to an almost visual transformation. My point on this is thus: If yer gonna do shadow box, leave yer bitches in the base. It's more amazing. Produce them another way. You figure it out.

Yes I am sure someone will get offended with me saying "bitches" to describe an assistant. Life sucks. Get a hat. I could have easily said "prop-stitute" (Giggle giggle). It's not meant as an insult merely alliteration. My journal, my rules. Don't like it? Don't read it.

But we still luv you... in the butt.


Thursday, March 17, 2005

Greetings from the West Coast. Coming to you live from Long Beach, CA for the official Waffles of the Damned shindig with the Cult of the Eye. With any luck I can hit up le Magic Castle this friday. (Take that David Oliver)

Regardless, we all know how much talk there is in this blog about not being like the Ass Hat and doing street magic the proper way, right? Well I thought I would comment on a few things about the art of street performance as observed in New Orleans. First there is no RIGHT way to do street theater, but there is a hell of a lot of wrong ways to do street theater. (Sounds classier when you call it that too.)

Two of the shools of thought are to do many many quick shows. Quantity WITH quality. The other of course is do a fooking long show. There are ups and downs to both of these. Let's examine them shall we?

So you want to do a 45 minute street act. The upside to this is that you can draw a MUCH larger crowd and therefore increase your Hat. (Money you take in at the end of a show) The downside to this is that if yer show is lacking good strong attention getting stuff you can and will have a lot of walk offs. People will only spend 3/4ths of an hour of THEIR time if YOU make it worth their while. How do you do this? I'll talk about that later.

Next is the shorter but easily to repeat shows. Again on the street you HAVE to be good. The street is a busy distracting place and everyone has places to see and people to do. Therefore if you have a good 8-10 act of strong visual stuff and skill you too can make much money.

So you can either work continually for about the same amout or do 3-5 big shows a day and pull in much. Again there is no right answer, you just have to be good at what you do. I have seen both work just fine. So the question is what do you do in a larger show?

Well at first a few small things to draw a crowd. Some stop a few people to see a trick and go. Some yell and beat on things. Some do a combo of the two. (With it's variations.) Well then you do some amazing magic, sleight of hand, comedy, etc. One of the tactics best used is to destroy someone's money. This not only keeps the person who lent you the 20$ around (sometimes) but also keeps others around to see if your gonna find it or get beat up.

So hwo do you use money and keep it funny and magical. Thaz where Gazzo, Chellini, and pretty much any other street performer come in. The cups and balls. Most every street person with a table and fresh fruit does this trick and, in all honesty, it kills. (Especially when the money is in the orange, lemon, lime, etc at the end.) Problem is what if you hate cups and balls? Then do a chop cup routine... or a two cup routine. What if you don't have a large shaped hat to produce a melon from? Get one!

What if you want to be different and not do this well established effect used for ever and ever and ever and ever and... well you get the idea. Remember, there is no right way to do street magic, just plenty of wrong ways. Cups and balls and fruit are well known to get reactions, money, and applause... then again so is fire eating and dove productions. It really depends if you want to be like two other guys in New Orleans or want to be different. Only problem with being different is you better be damn good to be different. It's possible. It happens. The question is: Can it happen to you? If the answer is yes, then make it so.

Make it JUST so...


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

"Yer always a slave to something...."

I cannot believe I have forgotten to ever MENTION this but here goes.... Music. Thaz right. Tunes, songs, ditties, jingles, noize. Whatever you call it it always adds a bit of that extra something to a show.It could be comedy, drama, action, excitement. Any good stage show needs it. Look at ANY of the pros and see how they do it. (Even if "let me see that thong" isn't yer taste in songs you'll get the idea.)

Watch any movie. Do you know what gets people swept up into the moment more than the acting. Well obviously I am gonna say the music, buuuuut thaz not all. It's everything. Many elements lead up to that moment of belief. Many of our beloved stage illusionists would be nowhere without their background score. Also if they had picked the wrong piece of music. It takes a bit of time to get to know what will work and what fits the piece you need. Here are a few tips to help you out if you are wondering how to improve your tune handling ability.

1. Don't use overly popular modern music: First off it's everywhere and no one really wants to hear it again. It's called pop music for a reason. It could easily be called fad music. I once knew a guy who used a backstreet boys song in his act. There are many things wrong with this. (Could have been worse, he could have used New Kids on the Block) If you use most of today's modern music for a mixed crowd you are going to run into people who just do NOT like that type of tripe. They will lose interest IMMEDIATELY because of the music. You run that risk with any music you use, but the more unknown or unobtrusive it is, the better... This leads me to..

2. Know yer Audience: Hell this is a no brainer. This applies to ANYTHING you do. However if yer going to be working a rock and roll night club don't use soothing soft rock and if yer doing a nice family show do not use Marilyn Manson. (I mean sure his song "Cake and Sodomy" is perfect for any sub-trunk routine but curb that urge I plead you.)

3. Use Instrumentals: Aside from the fact that most classical music is now public domain, there is a very good reason to use music sans words. If it is a song that ANYONE knows they will shift their mind away from you and try to remember what it is, where they know it from, what the lyrics are, who sings it, etc. They will not totally focus on you. This also kinda goes back to #1 up there. Use a nice obscure instrumental track, it will help you in the long run. I am not saying use ONLY that. There is only so much techno music or 60's bossanova one person can take. There are many songs with words that just WORK with a magic piece. I'm just saying.. be careful.

4. Pick stuff you would listen to normally: It helps when you know the music so well, not just because you have heard it in practice 50 zillion times, that you can adjust and know your timing. When you like what you use you will never get sick of it and actually enjoy yourself more on-stage. Know thyself.

Lastly let me comment on the "Timed RIGHT to the music" thing. Many magic routines are so dependent on the music piece that if something messes up or gets out of time they are in trouble. This rarely happens and it can add a lot but there is no rule that sez you can't have the music as a more background aesthetic and use it as you please. It helps not to be restricted by your surroundings. (Unless yer into that S&M type of stuff. You know, skittles and M&M's.)

Music can be the key you need to get the reaction you are looking for. I would comment more but my brain has been fuzzy all day and it is 5:30 in the morning.

And I promise this journal will go back to more ranting about magic itself and not the people abusing it.. even myself. Regardless, welcome back.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Oh I feel a rant coming on... (good thing I am listening to swing music or this could get ugly)

I have previously mentioned the rise of magic blogs and their propensity for going that EXTRA mile to talk about what's bad in magic. I am all for it, but geez people there is a line. Now improper business practices, stealing other material, reviews of tricks all well and good. However I fail to see where going online and critiquing someone else's act without them giving a damn what you think or asking yer opinion comes into play. Yah I know free country and alla that junk but...

I think if you took all of the hours these people spend surfing the net just LOOKING for stuff to bitch about you would find it greatly outnumbers the hours they spend practicing, performing, or improving their art, character, or presentations. Now true, some of these people are self-proclaimed non-pro's or retired of sorts from magic. Thaz fine.

Why do I bring this up? Well a while back on the magic cafe someone decided to bring up the fact that someone I know made a joke in one of his online videos about inventing the ambitious card. Oh man did everyone go batshit over this. Funny thing is that line did what it was soley intended to do. It worked beautifully. I had a good laugh.

Well while I was away it seems someone else found this site and made light of it on another blog. Some unkind words were said. This again falls under the category of "Who asked you?" Mind you anyone with a brain in their head, or a modicum of sense has better things to do than listen to the blather of what someone else thinks on something that they are perfectly free to decide for themselves. (Gee I think I just ousted myself there... oops.)

Let me say a little something for those who like to randomly critique other people's stuff when yer safe online.
1. Get all your facts. Making assumptions about stuff you have no idea about is kinda silly and juvenile.
2. Try to be more respectful of someone else's art. Just remember this... "Where is your professionally done promo video?" I guarantee the person you are bad mouthing doesn't care what you think and someday it could come back to bite you in the ass.
C. Remember: They can find out who you are and meet you in person someday.

Now reviewing a product online is a bit different. You are informing someone (if yer un-biased about it) of the pros and cons of an item from an informed ear. If you are a foul mouthed little wanker that comments on spelling mistakes and then doesn't spell check your own review you might want to re-think your logic. (For those of you keeping tabs, I misspell stuff on purpose. The english language is my BITCH!!)

Oh by the way, one more thing on blogs and I shall never speak of them again... what is the deal with making a magic blog and then putting in crap that has NOTHING to do with magic? They make Live Journals for stuff like that. I am sure you might be amused by ejaculation reports and wanna put it in yer magic blog.. but can we please keep your private life more.. private?

I'm not trying to offend anyone here, and these are just my opinions. Don't listen to me or anyone else. Listen to the voices in your head. They just might be trying to tell you something. (Practice more... get off the internet... stop wasting your life...)

(shakes head)Woo what was that?